Teacher Layoff Decisions Come Down to a Coin Flip

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NPR’s StateImpact Ohio, public radio’s ongoing look at the state’s public education system and the attending issues, has a troubling post about how the fine-print in some teacher union contracts dictates certain layoff decisions are made.

If a school district is looking for heads to send rolling, and two teacher’s with the exact same amount of tenure are up, a coin is flipped to decide who stays and who goes. That’s how it is in the Westerville and Lakeview districts. Other systems use a lottery to break up a deadlock, or resort to tallying each teacher’s years of service.

Little weird, right? We guess it makes sense, but something about hanging such an important decision on as arbitrary an outcome as heads-or-tails makes our stomachs a little queasy. Seems questionable, is what we're saying.

The practice does appear to be on the way out.

The 2011 state budget lets school districts give preference to tenured teachers in determining the order of layoffs. But after that, schools are supposed to look at performance evaluations, and seniority can only be used as a tiebreaker.

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